Over the last few years I have noticed that there are a number of new church plants in my area. Pair this with the explosion of church planting networks around the country and you would have to be blind not to see a trend occurring within Christianity.
I love the church and I love the idea of church planting. As such I wanted to interview a few church planters and get their take on the current culture of church planting and what they see is going on from the front lines. As such I contacted a handful of church planters and ask them to answer a series of questions. Below are the responses from a church planter in Frenchlick, Indiana by the name of Wade Allen. If you would like you can check out his church’s Twitter, his Twitter or friend him on Facebook.
1. The history of Restoration Church
Restoration Christian Church is a story of God putting the right people in the right place at the right time.
There were a few families in the French Lick community who felt called to do something for the Lord where they lived. These families had been traveling to attend worship at the Christian Church of Jasper in Jasper, Indiana, which was 45 minutes away. At the same time, I had been searching for the best location where I could help do a church plant.
My friend Darrel Land, who is the Senior Minister of CCJ, called one day to tell me he knew of people interested in starting a church in French Lick, and asked if I would be willing to meet with them. I agreed to meet. This was October of 2010. We met a couple of times to share our thoughts and dreams for the new church.
On January 30, 2011, 16 people met in a living room for a Bible study. This was the beginning of Restoration. Over the next few months our group grew to around 30 people meeting in Matt & Tina Pierce’s home. In August we began holding preview services on Sunday mornings at the Springs Valley Elementary School and we officially launched Restoration on October 9, 2011
In June of 2012, we transitioned our services from the Elementary School to the Springs Stadium Theatre.
2. Why do you think there is a rise currently in church planting?
Church planting is considered the “sexy” thing to do right now, but if there’s one thing I’ve never been accused of, it’s being “sexy.” lol
Here are some reasons I think church planting has become more and more popular…
– There are many organizations who actively promote and encourage church planting. There is a strong emphasis on church planting through books, conferences, and magazines. This focus makes the idea of planting a church very appealing to those interested in church ministry. Plus, huge networks have been invested in to help locate and train potential church planters. This collective wisdom has been instrumental in helping more church plants be successful.
– Established churches have hurt a lot of people over the years. A new church is an opportunity for a fresh start.
– New church work is an effective method of evangelism It’s not the only way to reach people, but it can be very effective starting from scratch, as opposed to overcoming baggage from an established church.
– It’s hard to pour new wine into old wineskins. This isn’t to say an established church cannot experience revival. It’s just that it’s a lot harder at times.
– It’s exciting to plant new churches!
* Ignorance could also be a leading cause of church planting. lol Some people just don’t know any better. I guess this is the difference between a “good” idea and a “God” idea.
* God is calling people to plant new churches. Researchers say the USA is the 3rd largest mission field in the world! God is calling more to church plant in order to reach more people in our nation.
3. Three pieces of advice you wish someone would have told you before you started church planting.
I am very blessed to have people with wisdom supporting me as we do this church plant. My oversight team is a group of incredible leaders with a ton of experience in leading successful and not so successful church plants. I have received good advice from the very beginning.
Here are 3 things I would emphasize…
a. Look for the natural openings God provides to determine if and where you should plant a church. I visited several different cities, had many discussions with people about planting a church before deciding to plant in French Lick. The deciding factor for me was the network God surrounded me with that pointed me to French Lick. I didn’t hear a voice or anything like that, I just saw how God was moving people and resources into place and figured I better follow His lead. I know some “parachute drop” church plants have been successful, but I would encourage any potential planter to be sensitive to the network God is building around you.
(FYI – I never considered myself a church planter. In fact, I thought I’d minister in established churches my whole life. But, through a series of events, God moved me from where I was to where I am now.)
b. Get to know God’s Word as best as you can! Study it. Memorize it. Whatever you need to do to saturate yourself with the Word, DO IT. People don’t need another entertainer, they need a friend who can share God’s message with them. When you face the attacks and storms associated with life and church planting, you will need this foundation so your house can remain standing.
c. Fundraising. Do as much fundraising as you can. I know this doesn’t sound spiritual, but it’s better to raise funds initially, rather than having your focus divided after you have launched the church.
4. What has God taught you through the experience?
I still feel like I’m learning through this experience. I’m definitely swimming in the deep end because I’m in way over my head. But this has a way of keeping you humble and dependent upon God. So I’m very thankful for that.
Reflecting on the past 2 years has reminded me that over and over again, God is faithful. This isn’t to say everything has worked out like we planned, because it hasn’t! But it is to say that God’s plans are better than our plans. And while there are still a few things I don’t understand, I have learned a deeper trust and faith because God is always faithful.
I’ve also been reminded that the church really is the people. We don’t have a church building. However, we do have office space we rent, but the office is not large enough for our gatherings. So, we rent a movie theater on Sunday mornings to hold our worship service in.
Many times I think it would be so wonderful to have a building. And it would be wonderful… when I think about our set up crew coming in early on Sunday mornings, and staying late to tear down… when I think we wouldn’t have to store our equipment in a trailer… when I think we wouldn’t get funny looks after telling people we have church in a theater… sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have a building.
But then I realize not having a building helps us teach people that we are the church! Not having a building helps us financially in the beginning! Renting the theater is much more economical than maintaining a building large enough for us to gather in. The office space we rent allows small groups to meet for Bible study throughout the week. The presence of a new teen center in town gives our student ministry an amazing place to meet on Sunday nights!
God has not given us one building to meet in. God has given us three buildings for our church to meet in! Wherever we are, that is where Restoration Christian Church is. The church is the people!
Planting a church is one of the most difficult yet rewarding tasks you can undertake.
Planting a church is hard. It’s not necessarily hard physically, although it definitely requires physical strength. Planting a church is hard emotionally and spiritually.
I have experienced the drain ministry in a church can place on you. (It’s hard to explain, but ask any preacher and they’ll tell you a Sunday can wipe them out!)
But I have discovered planting a church seems to take the draining up a notch!
There is stress associated with trying to establish yourself in a new community, learning names, being rejected by people, finances, recruiting helpers, maintaining your marriage, learning a new culture. Add this all together and church planting is emotionally taxing.
Spiritually you have to be on guard to make sure your emotional drain does not impact your spiritual life. Since we are human and tend to define our self worth in how well the church plant “seems” to be doing, we can focus on our efforts rather than rely on God and His strength. If we have a “bad” Sunday, we stress about whether anyone will come back the next week. If the financial support hasn’t come in for the month like you need it to, we stress about paying the bills.
It is so easy to take your focus off of God. And when this happens… church planting is hard.
But at the same time, planting a church is a huge blessing!
When I keep my priorities and focus in the proper places, there is nothing I’d rather do in this world than plant a church. I have friends who share with me the difficulties they face in their church ministry. I sympathize with them because I’ve been there. Then I quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God that I am allowed to do what I am doing.
I know church planting isn’t for everyone. I didn’t think it was for me until a couple years ago. I also know there are some really good established churches. But when we do what God calls us to do, there is a sweet spot where nothing else in this world even sounds tempting. Sure, it’d be nice to have a job that was more comfortable, but leaving your calling makes it simply a “job.”
5. Have any books you would recommend?
These are books that impacted me…
Purpose Driven Church – Rick Warren (I know, I know… but it’s a classic.)